Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has pointed to the possibility of calling in the army to deal with the violent protests in the country over the government’s economic policies.
Monti raised alert levels on Sunday at some sensitive sites across Italy to handle the recent violence that has hit the country.
Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri also said on Sunday that she was considering bringing in the army to defend certain locations.
“There have been several attacks on the offices of Equitalia (the agency handling tax collections) in recent weeks. I want to remind people that attacking Equitalia is the equivalent of attacking the State,” she said.
“The army could be used to guard buildings which could be the target of violent protest. The danger of an escalation exists. It’s a situation which demands drastic action,” she added.
On Saturday, two Molotov cocktails were thrown at the offices of Equitalia in Livorno, Tuscany, and severely damaged the front of the building after they blew off. Moreover, a letter bomb, which did not blast, was sent to the organization’s offices in Rome on Friday.
Earlier this month, a senior executive of state-controlled nuclear engineering group Ansaldo Nucleare was shot in the leg, with an Italian rebel group claiming responsibility for the attack.
Italy has faced a fresh wave of attacks in the last six months since Monti took office as prime minister and introduced a harsh austerity package to save the country from bankruptcy. The three-year austerity and growth package includes budget cuts, pension reforms as well as tax hikes worth 30 billion euros.
Italy, one of the biggest eurozone economies, fell into recession after its economy contracted by 0.2 percent in the third quarter and by 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.
The Italian government has been urged to implement economic reforms and budget cuts to reassure investors concerned about the country’s debt.
Italy’s debt ratio in the eurozone is second only to Greece.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti says complying with the European Union sanctions against Iran will cause many problems for the country’s ailing economy.
Speaking to reporters in a joint press conference with the president of the European Parliament, Martin Shulz, in Rome, Monti noted that Italy is grappling with serious economic recession and crisis and cutting Iran oil imports will cause the country to suffer more than other EU members.
The Italian premier added that due to heavy dependence on energy, Italy feels the pinch of Iran oil sanctions more than other European countries, but Rome is unable to disobey certain decisions.
Meanwhile, the Italian official news agency, ANSA, published a report quoting energy experts as saying that sanctions against Iran are useless and will only harm Italian and other European companies.
Referring to high trade volume between Tehran and Rome, the report added that given the existing economic crisis in Europe, compliance with sanctions may be an end to the longstanding presence of Italian companies in Iran, which will be replaced with Turkish and Chinese companies.
ANSA further stated that complying with Iran sanctions will also cost Italians 30,000 jobs.
On January 23, EU Foreign Ministers met in Belgium to approve new sanctions against Iran aimed at banning member countries from importing Iranian crude oil and carrying out transactions with its central bank.
The EU has considered a period of six months before sanctions are fully enforced in order to allow member states to adapt to new conditions and find new sources of crude oil.
EU decision followed imposition of similar sanctions by Washington on Iranian energy and financial sectors on the New Year’s Eve which seek to penalize other countries for buying Iran oil or dealing with the its central bank.
After approving new sanctions, EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, told reporters that the sanctions aim to persuade Tehran to suspend its peaceful nuclear activities and get back to negotiating table with P5+1 — comprising US, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany.
The United States, Israel and some of their allies accuse Tehran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear program, using this pretext to impose sanctions against Iran and threaten the country with military attack.
Iran has refuted the allegations, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and member of IAEA, it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful use.
The IAEA has never found any evidence indicating that Tehran’s civilian nuclear program has been diverted towards nuclear weapons production.
- Israel lobbies Japan to support anti-Iran sanctions (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- ‘Iran sanctions will backfire’ – Minister (laaska.wordpress.com)